Cow Creek Fire burning east of Ridgway, Colorado

The fire is 27 miles southeast of Montrose, Colorado

map Cow Creek Fire
3-D map (looking northwest) showing heat detected on the Cow Creek Fire by a satellite at 3:36 a.m. MDT Oct. 17, 2019.

UPDATED at 2:11 p.m. MDT October 17, 2019

The Cow Creek Fire is 27 miles southeast of Montrose, Colorado. Here is an update from fire officials on Thursday:

A Type 3 Incident Management Organization has been established in response to the Cow Creek Fire. Crews assigned to this organization will work to suppress the fire using geographical features, roads and trails. An overnight reconnaissance flight established the official acreage at 85 with no containment.

South-southwest winds with gusts up to 25 miles per hour are forecasted for the fire area this afternoon. Due to dry fuel conditions in the fire area there is a high probably of rapid fire spread. Currently predictive models have the spread staying within forest boundaries away from structures and private lands. These forecasted winds will cause heavy smoke throughout the Western Slope.

The Cow Creek Fire is currently in heavy mixed conifer within the Uncompaghre Wilderness of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests. Fire crews are utilizing indirect confine and contain strategies in areas with the highest probability of success with public and firefighter safety in mind. An investigation team has been assigned to the incident and is currently working to determine the cause of the fire, which is currently unknown.

The forecast on Thursday is for south winds of 8 to 12 mph increasing to southwest at 10 to 15 with gusts up to 25 after noon. The chance of showers or snow begins to increase late in the afternoon, with isolated showers or thunderstorms through sunset, then increasing to scattered showers with isolated thunderstorms overnight. The amount of precipitation could be around 0.05 inch — not enough to put out the fire, but it could slow the spread.

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Cow Creek Fire, including the most recent, click here.)

The fire is burning at 10,000 feet with an 11,000 to 12,000-foot ridge to the east. Officially, the strategy they are employing is full suppression.

From a Forest Service update October 16, “Additional resources have been ordered and will be employed where tactics and strategies have high probabilities for success, while minimizing unnecessary exposure to the public and firefighters.”

If they can keep it east of the large north-south drainage west of the fire, and if the weather cooperates, they may be able hang on while “minimizing unnecessary exposure” until a fire season-ending weather event.

UPDATED at 6:50 p.m. MDT October 16, 2019

Cow Creek Fire
The Cow Creek Fire as seen from Colorado’s MultiMission Aircraft. Posted at about 4 p.m. October, 16, 2019.

Authorities are saying the Cow Creek Fire 27 miles southeast of Montrose, Colorado has burned 100 acres.

Strong winds gusting around 35 mph are in the forecast for Thursday night, as well as Saturday and Sunday. If it is not contained by then, it could grow substantially by the first of next week. The strategy is full suppression, rather than manage and herd it around.

2:13 p.m. MDT October 16, 2019

Judging from photos taken by nearby residents, a fire reported 9 miles east of Ridgway, Colorado appears to be spreading quickly since it was reported at about 8 a.m. Wednesday. The Cow Creek Fire is in the Uncompahgre National Forest near the Red Creek-Chimney Rock area 27 miles southeast of Montrose. (see map below)

Cow Creek Fire
The Cow Creek Fire. Photo taken by Tyler Jay through binoculars October 16, 2019.

Quite a few aircraft have worked the fire at various times today, including four single engine air tankers, Tanker 163 (an RJ85), a couple of helicopters, a lead plane, air attack, and one of Colorado’s MultiMission Aircraft.

Cow Creek Fire
Map showing the approximate location of the Cow Creek Fire in Colorado.
Cow Creek Fire
Flight Aware map showing two Single Engine Air Tankers and an air attack ship over the Cow Creek Fire at 1:43 p.m. MDT Oct. 16, 2019.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

6 thoughts on “Cow Creek Fire burning east of Ridgway, Colorado”

  1. A new spot fire took off under the column around sunset 10/17. Active fire behavior with group torching visible from Ridgway 9 miles away until about 8pm. Winds are relatively calm, fuels are just very very dry.

  2. A sibling lives in Ridgway, sent picture this morning. The info on Inciweb is from the 11th, no updates there. I couldn’t find it this morning when I looked.

    1. Just to confirm, the Cow Creek Fire was first reported before 8 a.m. today, October 16. I looked, and there is no information about this fire on InciWeb.

      1. Thanks for this! Was planning to drive 2 hours for a Mtn bike ride just over the ridge on Alpine trail directly downwind; you saved us a lot of hassle.

      2. Yes, the one listed on the Inciweb site is from a Sept lightning caused fire on 9/25th. They’ve not yet posted this one yet, maybe because it’s so small?

        Bill, my sibling said she believes the current one you’ve posted here, started on the 6th.


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